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Christa Lundberg (University of Cambridge): ‘Religious Scholarship in Renaissance Paris: The Search for New Readers’  

In the first two decades of the sixteenth century, Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples led a project to publish Church Fathers and biblical texts in new, polished editions. While many of these publications are now recognized as important contributions to humanist scholarship, we still know little about who bought and read them. My current research explores how Lefèvre’s circle sought to create a wider audience for patristic books beyond the Faculty of Theology by promoting their editions to ecclesiastics, humanists, abbots, lawyers, and medics. In this seminar, I will argue that their prefaces addressed a new ‘pious public’ and that Lefèvre prescribed reading strategies to help this diverse group extract ‘spiritual nourishment’ from early Christian texts. I will also discuss what evidence we have that Lefèvre reached these groups. In addition to inventories and library catalogues, I shall introduce the family psalter of the humanist lawyer Konrad Peutinger to illustrate how Lefèvre’s religious scholarship was used for devotional purposes. To close, my presentation will highlight how Lefèvre’s mission of distributing pious books widely overlapped with the commercial interests of his publishers and trends in the Parisian book trade.

The Work in Progress seminar explores the variety of subjects studied and researched at the Warburg Institute. Papers are given by invited international scholars, research fellows studying at the Institute, and third-year PhD students.


image: details of titlepage of Pro piorum recreationem, ed. Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples, Paris: G. Marchand for J. Petit, 1504.